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Interviews

Skipper highlights importance of clean sheet

14 September 2021

Captain Ollie Clarke says a clean sheet against Rochdale this weekend would give the Stags ‘something to build on’ in Sky Bet League Two.

The skipper was suspended for Saturday’s defeat at Walsall following a red card against Harrogate Town, but is available for selection this weekend.

The former Bristol Rovers man says that, as captain, he has looked to ‘get everyone going again’ in training this week, during the current poor run of form.

“Obviously we hit the ground running as we wanted to, but unfortunately we’ve come away from it in the last few weeks,” he told iFollow Stags.

“We’ve got some indifferent results due to luck and individual errors. We’re not keeping the ball out of our net at the moment and it’s highly frustrating for everyone.

“In recent games, we’ve not had the decisions go our way at times, and we have made individual errors all over the pitch.

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“We haven’t really started that badly in terms of our performances at times, but we haven’t managed to keep the ball out of our net [well enough]. Once we get a clean sheet, that will build confidence throughout the team.

“A clean sheet will build confidence in ourselves, whether that is a 0-0 draw or whether we can keep a clean sheet and score a couple of goals ourselves.

“We desperately need a clean sheet for everyone’s sake, just to solidify us at the back and give us something to build on.

“In the games we’ve conceded, it has been quite early on, which has been frustrating. It puts pressure on us early on and that’s what’s killing us at the moment.

“You have to dig deep and work as hard as you possibly can. We’re not a million miles away and we’re creating a lot of chances. But at this moment, if we can’t keep a clean sheet, we are going to struggle to win games.

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“I always pride myself on trying to do as much as I can for the team. I came in yesterday and tried to get everyone going again by lifting the spirits to go again on Saturday.

“We know we’re capable of going on a run. There are a lot of good characters in there [squad] and the boys do work their socks off day-to-day. Training is always of a high standard and we don’t have any passengers.”

The midfielder then looked ahead to the weekend’s fixture against Robbie Stockdale’s Rochdale.

“They [Rochdale] have made a tidy start to the season. They started a bit slow [but have picked up form]. We expect them to be a bit more possession-based than most sides in this division.

“They’ve come down [from Sky Bet League One], and I can remember playing against them previously. They knocked the ball around nicely.

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“I’m not too sure what to expect from their players as they’ve changed quite a few, but it’s something we’ll be looking at over the next couple of days.”

Clarke analysed his season so far in amber and blue, whilst also emphasising the Stags’ desire to score more goals from midfield.

“It [my season] has been up and down really. I’ve got a goal, got an assist and I enjoyed the first couple of games.

“We had Lapo [George Lapslie] contribute nine or 10 goals last year, and me and [George] Maris have got one each this year. So, we’ll be looking to get more goals from midfield.

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“At the same time, you look back at the last three or four games, and you always analyse it to see how I could do better.

“I know that I’ve made a couple of errors for goals in terms of marking and against Preston I slipped and gave the ball away.

“It’s one of those where I can’t be too pleased with my performances when results haven’t gone our way. You have to analyse yourself first and foremost.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Ollie’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.

Tickets are available to purchase online for this weekend’s match against Rochdale by heading to stagstickets.co.uk.


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